“Currently, Portugal produces 160 percent of the oil it needs and this means that we have a very large export capacity,” said the minister.

This year, Portugal is expected to “reach the historical maximum of €600 million in olive oil exports”, added Maria do Céu Antunes.

“It is a fundamental value for us to reduce our trade deficit”, she said while stressing that the olive and olive oil sector has “great vitality” and “great dynamics, whether in a more competitive production”, in the case of intensive olive groves, “but also in a more traditional production”.

The official argued that this agricultural sector “is capable of keeping people in the territories”, not only in the area that concerns production itself, “but also in related sectors, such as tourism [and] gastronomy”.

“We are working with the sector, universities and polytechnics, to guarantee the information necessary to show the vitality of this sector and its contribution in the three dimensions of social enhancement, for the stimulation of the economy and also for the preservation of environmental values ??”, she said.

Olivum - Southern Olive Growers’ Association has already announced that Portugal, the 8th largest olive oil producer in the world, should see a drop in production in the 2020/2021 olive growing campaign compared to the previous one and produce 100,000 tonnes.

The production prospects in Portugal this season point to “a decrease of 40,000 tonnes” compared to 2019/2020, when Portugal produced 140 thousand tons and “broke the record” of national oil production “of the last 80 years”, the executive director of Olivum, Gonçalo de Almeida Simões told Lusa news agency.

The Alentejo, the Portuguese region that represents about 75 percent of the national production of olive oil, should also register a decrease and produce 75,000 thousand tonnes of oil in the campaign that started in October, 25,000 tonnes less than the 100,000 produced in the previous season.

According to Gonçalo de Almeida Simões, the “positive data” this year is that the forecasts point to a “7 percent increase in the consumption of olive oil worldwide, which translates into an inversion of the trend of recent years”.